In the Realm of Deadly Delusions
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Card #471 – In the Realm of Deadly Delusions


Deadly delusions cuddle up to us like warm and fuzzy stuffed animals with retractable fangs. At first, they can be so warm and cuddly — the glowing melt of social boundaries with those first few drinks — the infatuation that makes your heart lip-synch the greatest top forty hits of all time. Deadly delusions begin as a sugar rush of neon-colored cartoons of ecstatic victory erupting like fireworks in the night sky.

At the top of the parabola, the rocket’s red glare burns out. Gravity taps you on the shoulder and shoves you into an empty elevator shaft. But if you’re lucky, you might get to spiral downward in a vortex of tragic magic that at least gives you moments to reflect. But if you don’t learn and change, the tragic magic of grand disaster shrinks into putrefying stagnation and mundane misery.

You probably know what your deadly delusions are. If you don’t know, that’s the most deadly delusion of all. Just like we all have cancer cells, but most of us don’t currently have cancer, deadly delusions might be contained, in remission, or in various states of play ranging from subtle self-sabotage to fatal addiction to metastasizing collective psychosis. Perhaps, like me, you’re a survivor of deadly delusions, but not currently being run by one. The price of freedom from deadly delusions is eternal vigilance.

But even if your deadly delusions are currently in remission, Thanatos, the death drive, is fully active in others who may wreck your family, community, country, or planet. Currently, as I revise this card in the USA in 2024, collective psychosis is rampant on both the left and right.

What Jung called “mass man,” collectivized people I call “the hollow folk,” are always under the influence of deadly delusions of one sort or another. Mass man is often in a stampeding herd state — a-where-we-go-one-we go-all state. Deluded by fundamentalisms, ideologies, and twisted conspiracy theories, they boil over in a roid rage of righteous indignation and group hatred as they stampede toward the cliff’s edge.

Deadly delusions often come with a grand undertaker, a charismatic soul guide luring you into hell. Such darkly alluring soul guides could be a manipulative boyfriend/girlfriend, a guru, a populist demagogue (the Orange Goblin still in play during this revision), a cult leader, etc. The dark soul guide doesn’t have to be human; it can be any object of fruitless obsession/addiction/compulsion.

Consider the storyline of <i>Performance, Nicholas Roeg’s 1968 film about the encounter of a fugitive gangster (Chas, played by James Fox) with an androgynous, dissolute rock star (Turner, played by Mick Jagger). (Huge plot spoiler imminent.) At first, Turner appears to be the dark, trickster soul guide, and Chas is given hallucinogens without his knowing or permission and then seduced into a world of promiscuous pansexuality. But Chas is not merely playing darkness like a satanic-verse-reciting androgynous rock star. He’s a gangster, he works with darkness fultime. Turner thinks he’s the charismatic undertaker, but Chas concisely reverses their roles by putting a bullet in Turner’s head. This fate is typical of those who revel in the power and glamour of identifying themselves with the role of dark soul guide — there’s always someone darker and more deadly.

Consider this an auspicious time to employ the will and eternal vigilance to resist the allure of deadly delusions and the dark magicians who wield them.

Zap Oracle card, Beware the Hungry Whirlpools:

Beware the hungry whirlpools my friends, the dark undertow of collective vortices that would love to undertake you into their burgeoning carnivals of lost souls. The hungry whirlpools are slippery concavities dotting the thin ice of modern life. They might take the form of some tiny substance, a bit of white powder, a pill that makes you smaller, some little thing that crosses the blood-brain barrier and thereby seizes power. Every hungry whirlpool has a little black hole at its center, an object of unprofitable obsession, the neon spectacle, the fleshy, ever-receding corridors of online pornography, the glittering purchase drawing you into the sticky depths of credit card debt, the infatuation that confuses the hottie with the godhead, the poison Tea Party of political ideology, the glib success formula, the get-rich-quick scheme, the craving for celebrity, the food-like substance that melts in your mouth and spikes your blood sugar, the clueless delusion that sex can be casual, the moments that slip by to make up a dull day, the vapid allure of status updates and text messages about nothing, the channel surfing upon oceans of trash, the fingers twitching on game consoles with hot pockets rotting in the gut, the small talking, hanging about and petty status seeking of the social matrix, the thousand-thousand ways of falling through the wrong end of the telescope so that your life becomes like a prolonged and monotonous colonoscopy along the dark edges of emptiness. Beware such hungry whirlpools my friends! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch! Beware the frumious bandersnatching of hungry ghosts that can never be filled up! The more you give them, the more they want to suck you dry! Beware the hungry whirlpools my friends! They only want to pull you into their black holes, the super dense emptiness decanted from the souls that have collapsed into their hungry cores. Never, never, never surrender to such hungry whirlpools my friends! Their dark suction may tug at your feet. Their greedy tendrils may wrap you in their false embrace. Disavow them, disallow them! Keep moving past them! Keep moving toward the experience of meaning! Keep engaging with life. Find true nourishment and nourish others. And never, never, never surrender to the hungry whirlpools — for they are where withering souls go to creep, and you have promises to keep, and miles to go before you sleep…

See: IUI — Incarnating Under the Influence in a Polywater World

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